HL Deb 19 June 1883 vol 280 cc922-5

(The Lord President.)


Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


, in moving that the Bill be now read a second time, said, that its object was to deal with the regulation and direction of dairies and cowsheds on farms under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, 1868, and to provide proper and better machinery for the purpose. The provisions of the section of that Act had virtually become a dead letter; and, therefore, the Bill under notice made a change in the administration of this law by transferring, from the Privy Council to the Local Government Board, the power of making orders for the inspection, licensing, and direction of dairies. Their direction and regulation would thus be placed in the hands of the sanitary authorities for the district, instead of the local authorities constituted under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act. He would move the second reading of the Bill.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a." (The Lord President.)


said, he should very much like to know at whose request these changes were to be made; because he ventured to think that not only would they serve no useful purpose, but they would be exceedingly unpopular, and would, perhaps, have the effect of rendering the Act a dead letter in Scotland. The present law had been in operation for four years in Scotland, and had been worked with general approval, and with a great amount of success. By the present Bill, the authority in Scotland for putting it in force would be taken from the county committee and placed in the hands of the parochial boards, which were sanitary authorities under the Public Health Act of 1867. He had been a member of the county committee in two counties, both of which had worked the Act for four years; and they had done it with very little friction, and he believed with very general practical good. In the county of Stirling, for instance, which was one of those to which he had referred, very soon after the Order of the Privy Council came out in 1879, it was put in force, and no less than 1,100 persons were shortly after registered as keepers of dairies and other places for the sale of milk. The Act had been worked in that county at, he believed, an annual expenditure of £10 or £15, or, perhaps, at the outside, £20. But, if this Bill passed as it now stood, for the one authority there would be substituted no fewer than 27 different authorities, there being no less than 27 parishes in the county of Stirling. It was most unlikely that those 27 different authorities would all take the same view of their duty in enforcing the Act; and the consequence would be, that they would have, in one parish, a totally different rule obtaining from that which obtained in the parish next to it; and not only would that cause very general dissatisfaction, but it would cause a very largo increase in expense in the working of the Act. In addition to that, no one who knew the constitution of parochial beards in Scotland would think for a moment that they were as satisfactory an authority for this purpose as the county committee, which was now the authority. He had himself been for 15 years a chairman of a parochial beard, and therefore he did not wish to say anything against parochial beards as regarded the particular purposes for which they wore constituted. Their particular duty was to look after the relief of the poor, and the local sanitary necessities of the parish; and he thought they were totally unfitted, by their constitution and the small area over which they had authority, for having any discretion conferred upon them in a matter of this kind. As to England, he knew nothing of how the Act worked there; but he hoped that the point he raised as to Scotland would be carefully considered before the Bill got into Committee, and that, at any rate, sufficient time would be given to the local authorities in Scotland to express their opinion upon it. That they had not yet been able to do, in consequence of the short interval since the Bill was printed.


objected to the application of the Bill to England, since the sanitary officers or nuisance inspectors were very frequently townsmen who were not too well acquainted with the requirements of farmers and of rural life. This Bill would, in all probability, cause a great increase in the rates, or would be used as an excuse for increased salaries.


said, that while he thought the inspectors of nuisances and the officers of the Local Government Board did their duty, he believed that the Bill, as regarded England, proposed a very good change, and he thought it would be found to be very useful. There was, however, a great deal in what his noble Friend (Lord Balfour) had said with regard to Scotland. He (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon) should not like, at that moment, to say that the Bill was equally wanted for Scotland, or that the alterations proposed would be found to work so well, or to answer there as in England; and, therefore, perhaps the noble Earl opposite (the Lord President), before the next stage, would consider whether it was necessary to include Scotland in its provisions, supposing he was convinced by the statement of his noble Friend that it would not apply so well to Scotland as to England.


said, that he thought the Bill would be clearly an advantage to England, and also to Ireland; because it appeared that the local authorities under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act had not the means of carrying out this purely sanitary inspection in any satisfactory way. With respect to Scotland, he should be ready to consider the matter. He was aware that they were under different conditions in Scotland to what they wore in England, although he was under the impression that this change was as much needed there as here. The change had been brought forward in connection with, and with the approval of, the Local Government Board in England, the Local Government Board in Ireland, and the Board of Supervision in Scotland. He should, however, inquire further into the Scotch case, and he would look carefully into the objections raised by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Balfour) before the Committee stage.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House on Thursday the 28th instant.